Today I decided to try something I have meant to do for a couple of years now: I shopped at a local thrift store to find knitted sweaters I could unravel, so I could reuse the yarn for something else.
For those of you who have wanted to do the same or are planning to do the same, I thought I would document for you my entire process, starting with the shopping and ending with (I hope) at least one finished ball of yarn!
Shopping for Sweaters
With high hopes I set off for the local Goodwill store. Visions of ugly sweaters just waiting to be unraveled and given a new and exciting life danced merrily in my head as I arrived at the store.
This is where I learned several harsh truths about shopping for sweaters at my local Goodwill.
1. Mid-August in Oklahoma is probably not the best time to go sweater shopping. If I waited for September or October, I probably would have found a greater selection. (I might have to return then!) I assume that most people (at least in climates that get hot in the summertime and cooler in autumn) donate more lightweight clothing that they don’t want or can’t wear anymore in mid-August. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking, here.
2. Sweaters do not jump out at you — at least, not if you’re hunting on a southern mid-August day! You will have to do some serious digging if you’re to find any sweaters at all.
3. In mid-August, you can forget about wool or any other warm natural fibers. If you’re lucky, you may find cotton, linen, or silk and/or blends of these fibers.
4. The lack of ugly sweaters was disappointing. I expected to find a ton of them. (I expected to find a ton of sweaters, period, but…see numbers 1 and 2.) But I really didn’t see a single ugly sweater. I found sweaters I would never actually wear (more on those in a minute), but none that I would call “ugly.”
5. Again, likely due to hunting in mid-August, I found exactly zero sweaters made with yarn that I would call worsted weight. Or DK. I found one sweater made with what I might call sport weight yarn, but it was really pretty, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to bear unraveling it! All the other sweaters I found were made with fingering weight yarn or finer.
On one hand, this is a good thing; it’s very difficult to find fingering or lace weight yarn in non-wool fibers. And these could be fun to knit with. On the other hand, they could certainly make unraveling a difficult task!
I rejected many sweaters because the yarn looked more like thread, and I didn’t feel up to the task of attempting to unravel them (let alone knit with the resulting yarn). I did finally find four sweaters that I knew I’d never wear, with yarn that looked reasonably capable of unraveling.
My Sweater Finds
Item one is this pretty beige sweater vest. It is pretty, but I don’t really care for sweater vests on me. It’s acrylic, so part of me kind of wondered if it was really worth unraveling a sweater vest for acrylic yarn. But it’s very soft, and I’m thinking that if I’m successful in unraveling it, it could be amazing yarn for preemie hats. Item two is this short-sleeved loose-fitting sweater. I don’t ever wear short-sleeved sweaters, nor do I wear tops that are quite this loose, so this was another good candidate for unraveling. It looks pink in the photo, but it’s actually made up of a really pretty peach-white-black variegated yarn. If it successfully unravels, I’ll be excited to see how it knits up. It’s a rayon/polyester yarn, which I think could make a gorgeous scarf or shawl. Item three is this absolutely beautiful burgundy short-sleeved sweater. Again, I don’t wear short-sleeved sweaters, though if I did I might wear this one. I might not actually unravel it — now that I have it at home, it’s a bit more fitted than I thought it was. Maybe I should try it on first… …oops. It’s quite sheer. Never mind. It’s getting unraveled. This one is a linen/viscose blend, which I’m very excited about. I’ve never knitted with linen yarn before. This too could make amazing preemie hats, or possibly a shawl. Finally, there’s this beauty. I might be the most excited about it. It really is a gorgeous garment, but it’s also VERY itchy. I don’t know if you can tell in the photo, but it’s made with partially metallic yarn (the rest of the yarn is rayon and polyester). I have two thoughts about this yarn: one, it could make a beautiful cell phone purse (or several of them!); two, I might be able to knit it together with another yarn, a softer one, and make a stunning hat with it. So those are my sweater finds, and those are what I shall attempt to unravel. Tune in for the next installment of my sweater unraveling saga, when I attempt to actually take apart these babies for optimum unraveling!